End in sight

Mar 21 2016 | By More

EUTC to stage absurdist masterpiece

Edinburgh University Theatre Company is staging a new production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame this week at the Bedlam Theatre.

First staged in its English language version in 1958, Endgame followed Waiting for Godot by five years and, like Godot, was translated by Beckett from his original French script.

Bedlam_WebsiteA play in one act, Endgame takes its name from the final moves in a game of chess when the main conflict is concluded and the board is largely denuded of pieces.

Beckett uses an absurdist style of theatre, creating post-apocalyptic wastelands in which to people his plays. He then has his characters linger there, in a dissection of human relationships which is anti-naturalistic in tone and language.

Here, in Endgame, are the blind Hamm who has lost the use of his legs and is trapped in some kind of cell with his servant Clov to wait on him. In one corner are his parents Nagg and Nell, unable to walk and who live in dustbins from which they appear on occasion to pass comment.

It is a piece which has intrigued theatre goers for almost 60 years – and Finlay McAfee since he first read the script. Now McAfee has the chance to direct a production for EUTC.

“Beckett speaks to his audiences through subtleties in the script,” McAfee told Æ. “They are very intricate, and each reading of the script uncovers another hidden gem. Beckett demands a critical eye and that is what makes directing his work so thrilling for me.

web of intrigue

“I am a computer scientist and I find that unpicking this web of intrigue is like solving an endless cryptic puzzle. It never ends for the audience, just as it never ends for the characters on stage. That’s why I chose the piece really. It has been in the back of my mind ever since I first read it.”

Samuel Beckett is getting something of an outing in Scottish theatres at the moment. Following the Lyceum’s magnificent Waiting for Godot last Autumn, the Glasgow Citizens – always a slightly darker, more brooding kind of production house – has just staged Endgame in a production which the Guardian said made Godot “look like a riotous farce“.

At the helm was Dominic Hill, with Coronation Street actors Chris Gascoyne as Clov and David Neilson as Hamm. Yet even though Hill brought great performances from his actors, the production still had its detractors, with The Stage wincing a little that it was “a museum piece rather than a living piece of theatre“.

Such concerns hold no water with McAfee, however. This will be the Bedlam’s first Endgame on record – although it has staged three productions of Waiting for Godot over the years.

“It would be wrong not to stage this show,” McAfee told Æ. “Whether back in 1957, today or in a hundred years, as it remains a relevant and intelligent insight into the human condition.”


Bedlam Theatre, 11 Bristo Place, EH1 1EZ
Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 March 2016
Daily at 7.30pm
Full details and tickets on the Bedlam website: https://www.bedlamtheatre.co.uk/shows/endgame-2016


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